Fixer-Upper Homes’ Plumbing Issues. What should you do and what should you leave to a PRO
If you are buying a fixer upper home, you are likely to be faced with some serious DIY work. Unfortunately, many issues and problems can end up costing you far more than you expect. Plumbing issues, in particular, can be a costly project. Plumbing problems in older homes can extend beyond lead pipes and small pipe sizes, so you need to be aware of the potential problems before you make a purchase decision.
Where Does the Rain Water Go?
Homes are designed to have drainage and gutters to carry rainwater away from the property. Unfortunately, in a fixer upper, it is common for this system to have become damaged over the years or wear and need replacement. This can be an expensive undertaking, so you will need to negotiate accordingly. Although rain is admittedly a rarity here in LA, when it does rain, it often POURS. Consider where the ground is damp after it has been raining. Check for any pools of standing water or signs of water accumulating in the basement.
Are Drains Clogged?
While there are many chemical products available on the market, many of these are ultimately ineffective against clogged drains. Very harsh chemicals can even damage pipes permanently. This means that if the house has a history of clogged drains, it could mean that there is a significant underlying problem or poor design from inception. DIY efforts to clear obstructions can cause massive damage to pipes. Whether through misuse of a drain snake or pouring down abrasive chemicals, the pipes inside the home could be in need of partial or total replacement due to a break in the line or an offset. Therefore, it is well worth checking if water is properly draining away. If in doubt, have a plumber that specializes in drain and sewer line repair check it out.
Is There Low Water Pressure?
Low water pressure can be the result of something as simple as an accumulation of debris in the aerator inside the faucet. This is not atypical in an older home. This involves a relatively easy fix of unscrewing the aerator, cleaning it out and reassembling the faucet. Unfortunately, low water pressure can also be a symptom of much more serious plumbing issues. If the water pressure is below normal, there could be an eroded water line, fractured pipe or even a break in the water line. These are all potentially costly issues that will require the attention of a professional plumber. At the very least, you are likely to need a full inspection, so that the plumber can determine the underlying cause of the problem. You may then find that you need to pay to replace sections of pipe work or other repairs, which will not only cost you money, but could require that the garden and or driveway need to be dug up.
Is the Toilet Broken?
While a broken toilet may seem like an easy DIY fix with a run to your local BIG BOX store, it can actually be a far more complicated endeavor. A functioning toilet is a vital component in any home, and if the toilet in your fixer-upper is broken or leaking, there is a risk of flooding and damage. While any flooding can be a major inconvenience, when you are dealing with a broken toilet, you could find that dirty and contaminated water causes a massive and expensive health hazard. Unless you are TRULY handy and have plumbing experience, this sort of work is better left to an experienced pro plumber.
Are There Any Bathroom Leaks?
Finally, you need to check if there are any leaks in the pipes connecting the bathroom. Take a quick look under the sink to see if there are any signs of a of water damage. Additionally, check the ceiling and floor around the bathroom, near the tub to look for indications of water stains. A bathroom remodel could cost you $10,000 or more, especially if there are underlying plumbing problems. Just remember that the pipes connecting to the bathroom typically extend for a considerable distance, so be aware of any signs of water damage along the way.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.